California Day 5: Favorite Day
My favorite day of our California trip was jam packed with beautiful sights and magical places. We saw things, I didn’t even know existed. It started with a quick surprise trip to Morro Bay. Garrett took a random turn and made the surprise stop to this beautiful bay.
It was a short walk along the bay where otters were playing in the water, and these ground squirrels played along the water’s edge. I’m not sure what kind of squirrels they are, but they were everywhere and dug burrows.
We kept traveling down Hwy 1, stopping at various pull-offs to explore and take photos.
Our next major stop was the beautiful Moonstone Beach. This beach was a huge tourist attraction in the early 1900’s. Today, it isn’t so crowded, but is easy to see why people are drawn to it. The black sand against the blue water was stunning! There’s also an awesome boardwalk.
I kept seeing signs for elephant seal viewing areas. When we saw a crowded parking lot, we knew we were in the right spot. I was hoping to see one or two seals, but instead we saw dozens! They were so fun to watch. Just look!
After our fill of seals, we meandered down the road that became ever more increasingly steep and winding. We stopped for a quick lunch of hot dogs before finding a small sign for our next stop—Salmon Creek Falls. Garrett had found and researched this stop, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I know, I was shocked. We climbed a narrow, but short trail that lead to some serious boulders. We had just been at the beach, so being in a forest with giant boulders wasn’t really what I expected. Beyond the boulders was the biggest waterfall I’d ever seen behind Niagara Falls, and you could go right up to it! It was epic!
While Salmon Creek Falls was big and bold, McKay Falls was magical and picturesque. It looked like a place a pirate would hid buried treasure, or at least, that’s what it looked like to me. Sadly, our third planned waterfall of the day fell through because Julia Pfieffer Burns Park was closed. However, it ended up being a good thing. It gave us more time for our favorite place of the whole trip!
We crossed Bixby Bridge and searched for a pull-off that a lady at McKay Falls had told us about. While we hadn’t caught what she said the name was, we kept an eye out. Finally, we found a place called Garrapata State Park. This is well worth the stop and was one of the most spectacular places on our trip. I had just finished saying how I wonder where the river dumps into the sea. Well, I found an excellent example of it. Holy moly! It was incredible to see a babbling river with lilies on the banks empty onto the beach and into the ocean.
I didn’t think it could get more amazing and then, we went to Point Lobos. We almost didn’t make this stop. We thought we’d just “swing” by. If we knew what we knew now, we’d have planned to be there longer. We had to pay $10 to get in, but it was worth it. I don’t know that I can describe it well in words (thank goodness for pictures). There were Lord of the Ring tree groves, cliffs, blue/turquoise water, water caves, and tide pools. We saw harbor seal with new pups, otters with babies, birds, deer, starfish, crabs, anemone, mussels, clams, snails, and so much more. It is truly a magical place. Do yourself a favor and put Point Lobos on your bucket list.
The day ended with an amazing evening in Monterey. Our hotel was a cottage with a giant tub! We ate at Passionfish and had the best fish ever! It was our fancy dinner of the trip. We started with goat cheese black bean balls with salsa fresca followed by a spring salad and grilled asparagus salad. I thought I had messed up by ordering the asparagus. I didn’t hear the asparagus part and only heard prosciutto. It turned out to be delicious! For our main course, I had Artic Char on parsnips and spicy cream sauce. Garrett had Rockfish and mint cabbage salad with oranges and vinaigrette. Dessert was Bourbon Carmel bread pudding with banana ice cream for G. I got a citrus trio with lemongrass curd, panna cotta, and lemon creme brulee. Holy food coma. Ya’ll, it was a good day!